What is Farm to School?
In 2010, the same year they signed the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, Congress also issued a mandate to create a Farm to School Program within the USDA. From 2013-15, the USDA allocated $78 million in grants to support programs that integrate farm education and local food purchases, with 78% of those grants going to schools with high rates of eligibility for free or reduced price school lunches.
Farm to School Programs which educate children about farming and the seasonal nature of food, have been shown to increase participation, support declines in absenteeism, increase household food security and encourage healthy choices. Informed students who have been involved in hands on learning are much more likely to fill up their plates with fruits and vegetables at lunch time, especially if those fruits and vegetables are from a farm they’ve had the opportunity to visit.
What is Allergic to Salad doing?
Our curriculum is 100% vegetable-based and seasonally driven. Our classes reach students in NYC whose schools may have not received USDA grants, and who might not otherwise have access to this skill-driven nutritionally conscious education. We see firsthand the shifts in dietary choices, behavior, and attitude that can occur when students are empowered to prepare their own food and learn about the ingredients that compose it.
We have also partnered with small local organizations that are doing the work of farm education, such as Garden Kitchen Lab, an initiative that introduces youth to hands on gardening and nutritional information, completing the cycle with a culinary component. This past summer, ATS educators partnered with GKL at sites in Brooklyn to bring our culinary expertise to their gardening program.
We frequently partner with restaurants and organizations that have a farm-to-table ethos. Our students who attend these chef-led master encounter high quality food, made accessible, and are also learning about potential career paths. This summer we also brought some of our students to the Brooklyn Grange to explore the world’s largest rooftop urban farm. While not all of these students have farm-to-school initiatives at their schools, we are working tirelessly to engage the pre-k through 8th grade crowd about the importance of seasonal eating and to make it accessible.
How can I Help Farm to School Initiatives?
Most of our Allergic to Salad programs occur in an after school setting, meaning that they are not currently eligible for Farm to School grants. In general, requests for funding far exceed the USDA allocations. This could change with implementation of the Farm to School Act of 2017, which will increase early childhood/daycare and after school access to funding for such programs, providing a much needed increase in food access and nutritional education for students outside the school day. Click here to sign your support for this much-needed legislation. Also keep up to date with Allergic to Salad and our Healthy Neighborhood Campaigns through In Our Back Yards (IOBY) for ways to support our ongoing efforts to bring healthy and hands on cooking classes to more kids!